'Perfect tactics': Hindley wins stage as teammate Kelderman takes Giro lead

25 Octobre, 2020, 11:40 | Auteur: Adelaide Bullion
  • Wilco Kelderman is the new leader of the Giro d’Italia

Portuguese Almeida cracked on the steep and twisty 24km Stelvio climb, losing three minutes before the summit as Kelderman took over as the virtual leader. But with the finish line gaping, the 24-year-old zipped clear to deny Geoghegan Hart a second success in a race in which he has taken on the mantle of Ineos team leader following the early withdrawal of Geraint Thomas. "The tactics were flawless for our team today".

Spain's Pello Bilbao (Bahrain McLaren) finished strongly to move into fourth place overall, one minute and 19 seconds back, with Almeida, race leader since stage three, now off the podium in fifth spot, having lost nearly five minutes on Thursday. On the last part of that ascent, the pace set by Dennis -who was the victor of the Cima Coppi 2020, left Wilco Kelderman struggling behind while his teammate Jai Hindley could keep up with the Ineos' riders.

"It was a mad afternoon, super tough, the hardest day of my entire life", Kelderman said.

"Jai is very strong and Tao is a rival for the general". "We had a goal and we achieved it".

Almeida drops to fifth place at 2min 16sec, after finishing the stage in 48th position after the 207km run from Pinzolo to the Cancano Lakes in the Stelvio National Park.

As Rohan Dennis put the power down for Geoghegan Hart, the bigger surprise came when Kelderman was dropped with almost 10km of the climb still to come.

But as they hit the valley approaching the next climb, Kelderman quickly went backwards, overtaken by a recovering Pello Bilbao and Fuglsang as Geoghegan Hart and Hindley - two supposed domestiques - thought about battling for pink.

Jai Hindley held off Tao Geoghegan Hart in a sprint finish to win stage 18
Jai Hindley held off Tao Geoghegan Hart in a sprint finish to win stage 18

With team leader Kelderman behind, Hindley had forced the Stage 15 victor from East London to do all the work on the succession of hairpins on the final climb of Torri di Fraele.

"There's not much to say, the others were too fast", said the 36-year-old, one of the few riders to have won all three Grand Tours in France, Italy and Spain. They have time on their side.

"Tomorrow (Friday) nothing will happen but the day after, the race will explode again", he predicted of the final three stages.

His lead looks fragile, though, with Saturday's 20th stage to Sestriere still looking tough, despite the Colle dell'Agnello and the Col de l'Izoard climbs being scrapped because of the French authorities barring the race from crossing the border because of tightening COVID-19 restrictions.

The 18th stage of the Italian grand tour was bound to be one of the most exciting with a route that featured the iconic Passo dello Stelvio and a finish on a first category climb.

The victor, however, will not be known until after Sunday's closing time trial in Milan.

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